Habits and To-Do Lists

I started this post about a month ago, and it was going to be about cutting blogging down to 2 entries a week (from a whopping 3) and trying to write more on other things. I have long since cut the blog post quantity back, and so far I have yet to do any more on the other writing front.

Some of this is due to life–we started our oldest in kindergarten, and adjusting to that schedule and homework (?!) has taken awhile. Also, my husband is in the middle of taking his doctoral qualifying exams (last big thing before writing a dissertation in his program), so he has been super busy at school, and I have been on my own with the kids a little more than usual.

The other thing that happened is that I realized my running to-do list (which I seem to have had some iteration of for about as long as I can remember) was completely stressing me out, so I threw it away. This may not seem completely related to writing more, but it actually is. My modus operandi thus far in life has been to make a list of things I need to do and then try to cross items off the list. I have most recently has 2 or 3 to-do lists going:

  • One “big life goals” or “big year goals” that I keep tucked away and only look at every so often.
  • One “monthly” list that has more concrete things that I would like to do in the next month or two.
  • Either a weekly, “next couple days”, or “this afternoon” list that usually pops up on a Post-It when I really need to prioritize what’s going on.

I can’t imagine why this would stress me out, would you? Oh, I also always have more things on the list than I can possibly get done in the timeframe. And, things like “writing” or “knitting” never seemed to be as important in a to-do list setting. So, as I continue to adjust to our most recent changes, I’m trying not to be so to-do list dependent. Instead, I want to work on cultivating habits. Some habits I have pretty well down:

  • Getting everyone out of the house on time. (This is a new accomplishment, but school is a great motivator!)
  • Making dinner every day.
  • Keeping up with laundry enough to ensure clean clothes all around.

None of these are surprising, I’m sure, as most adults have some form of these daily life habits well worked out. There are some other habits, however, that I haven’t really ingrained yet, and I want to focus more on them going forward:

  • Write something every day.
  • Pray and read the Bible every day.
  • Choose my activities intentionally:  There are still things that need to get done, after all, so I still need to choose some housework that needs doing each day and focus on the work at hand. This also means paying attention to how much time I spend on the computer (and doing what!), which is my real time waster these days, and deciding when I’m going to fit in things like writing and Bible study.
  • Rest better. (By which I mean, go to bed earlier when I need to, don’t make every minute frantic with “to-do” worry, and choose to spend some time in activities I enjoy.)

I’m hoping that moving from a “to do” list mindset to a “habit forming” mindset, I will be a little less stressed by the daily hustle and bustle that we all live with. I’m not completely giving up on lists–sometimes a short one is still the best way for me to organize my plan of action–but I’m trying not to let them rule me quite so much. And, who knows? Maybe I’ll get that extra writing time in eventually.

 

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